Hammer and Tong

Now that storylines in Anye Legacy books 2 & 3 are in pretty good shape, it’s time to go back and apply writer’s craft. I’ve been away from Quantum Soul long enough to be objective, and I can see it needs some work.

This is always a dilemma for a writer – you fall in love with the details and end up writing material that, while it might be lovely, contains fundamental defects.

The pacing was off, there were too many details that readers probably won’t care about and some of it was boring.

So, I’m working on a new beginning, picking up the protagonist at age 17 instead of age 11. In order to focus on what I need to be doing, I made a short list.

  • Interiority of characters
  • Sense of place
  • Meaningful exposition
  • Interior dialogue
  • Advance the plot
  • So what

If you want to see what I’m setting aside, go here for a look at a sample of the most recent draft. What follows is the first 2 chapters of my current thought experiment. It’s early to be sharing this, and it still might not be any good, but I’m not shy. Comments welcome.

Chapter 1

Amil studied Dani’s face, reflected in the air shuttle’s side window, wondering how he’d feel when the moment arrived — whether he’d be simply heartbroken, or angry, or desperate.

I’ll be in denial.

He was as ready for it as possible, but there’s never a good time to part ways with a person you’re in love with.

Amil refocused on the view outside. A thousand meters below, verdant hills and valleys rushed past, soon yielding to deep blue ocean as the shuttle crossed Five Island’s western beaches to fly out over open water. Just offshore, a plume bubbled out of an undersea fissure, blanketing a line of uninhabited islands.

Amil sniffed, testing for a whiff of sulfur, but couldn’t pick up anything. He glanced at Dani, curious whether the Azanta sense of smell — inherited from four generations back — could detect volcanic gas through a cabin air filter.

She was eavesdropping on a conversation; muzzle turned away, tall, erect ears rotated forward, sharp teeth shining out of tightly drawn lips. The expression on her face reminded him of a cat watching a rabbit, poised to give chase.

Dani’s alert intensity was an outward sign of drive and ambition, a shared trait that drew them together when he was twelve, and she fourteen — one that would soon push them apart.

On this day, Amil was traveling to compete in the traditional AjDazani sport of tree climbing, in his last year of eligibility as a student athlete. Dani’s presence was, for him, sadly ironic — she’d started a branch of her family’s tour guide business at their destination, and was in the final stages of moving there.

Her hand lay on Amil’s thigh, just below the hem of his shorts, claws slightly extended, grazing his skin in the absent-minded way of lovers long accustomed to the ways of intimacy. She turned to find him staring, smiled and kissed his ear.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m feeling a little moody.”

“I’m sorry, Mil — maybe you shouldn’t climb tomorrow.”

“If I don’t feel up to it, I won’t. What were you snooping on?”

“A boy spotted a phosphate barge headed west. The father was trying to explain why we’re trading with the Vanya in defiance of the Quarantine.”

Amil rolled his eyes. “I thought they might be discussing how tired this bus is starting to look.”

“We’ll have it refreshed next year.”

“Your competition just bought a new FastBus.”

Dani whispered back. “You know my mother.”

Lis Yantur didn’t want people to know how fat her accounts were. The woman’s understated public persona manifested in her house, the way she dressed and the businesses she owned. Amil agreed that thrift was an important virtue, but doubted the wisdom of pretending not to be successful when all the evidence indicated otherwise.

He leaned in closer. “She’s not fooling the neighbors.”

“You tell her. I’ve given up.”

Amil turned his attention back to the view out the window. “Na — she doesn’t need advice from a seventeen-year-old.”

Chapter 2

Dani closed her eyes, inviting the possibility of a nap. Amil distracted himself by contemplating what would happen to the bus when it was finally retired from commercial service.

Their conveyance was a thirteen-meter composite-over-titanium road coach, stripped of rolling stock sometime after commercial land transportation became obsolete, its chassis grafted onto an aftermarket flight platform.

Amil thought the propulsion module must be at least thirty years old. But, like almost everything scientist Rivan Saraf invented, grav-lift kinetics had a long service life — the flying part would outlast the coachwork by a factor of centuries. At some point, the vehicle would go into private use, to an owner who didn’t care that its blocky shape was an intractable speed limiter. Eventually, the coach would wear out and the flight kit used for something else.

Amil mumbled to himself. “Travel home.”

Dani patted his thigh. “Ha?”

“That’s what this bus needs to become in its next life.”

“Oya — it’d make a nice one.”

“If you have plenty of time to get where you’re going.”

She sat up. “Ya, they’re slow. We should have seats taken out for more leg room.”

“It’ll still be a flying brick.” Amil glanced at his phone. “Two more hours to Matsyajala.”

Dani groaned. “You’re right — I’ll talk to her about upgrading the fleet.”

“I’m trying to help you. And please don’t say it was my idea.”





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